Steve Morrissey provided the music and Lenny Dalton the vocals on traditional Celtic music at the Dram for St. Joseph in Calgary Jan. 16. Photo courtesy Sean Lynn

Raising a glass to St. Joseph

  • January 23, 2021

Pope Francis announced the “Year of St. Joseph” on Dec. 8 to inspire believers of Christ across the globe to venerate the man who “accepted Mary unconditionally,” taught the value of “participating in the work of salvation” and was a tender earthly father to Jesus.

The God Squad Canada, a Catholic men’s society headquartered in Calgary, answered the call to honour the man who Pope Pius IX decreed in 1870 as patron of the Catholic Church by hosting a virtual fundraiser called A Dram for St. Joseph Jan. 16.

This online gathering, streamed on YouTube, featured musical performances from the St. Francis Xavier Chaplaincy choir and traditional Celtic music from Ireland while participants indulged in various brands of whiskey from the comfort of their own homes.

God Squad Canada is hoping to raise $35,000 so that the Litany of St. Joseph can be set to music like other celebrated hymns and prayers have in the past. The goal of this project is for people “to recognize the beauty and full richness of the prayer.”

Sean Lynn, an Irish-Canadian who founded God Squad Canada in 1998, said choosing whiskey as the signature beverage — led by James Buchanan of Buchanan’s Chop House and Whiskey Bar — has a symbolic meaning.

“The origin of whiskey comes out of Ireland out of the phrase ‘uisce beatha,’ which means ‘water of life,’ ” said Lynn, a police officer in Calgary for three decades. “There seems to be a whiskey craze in the world right now, particularly in urban areas. We decided to latch on to whiskey as an avenue to reach particularly younger men.”

Fr. Nathan Siray, pastor for The Shrine Church of Our Lady of the Rockies, also factored into the night’s proceedings.

He was interviewed by event host Connor Curran about the power of praying to St. Joseph — who is also the patron saint of Canada — and how this heavenly intercession was instrumental in his parish successfully opening its doors in Canmore this past June.

“We have a really strong connection to the man because he interceded for us in many ways,” said Siray during the livestream. “Whenever you are beginning a building project, what’s better than to seek support from a man who was a carpenter on Earth?”

Lynn said the God Squad Canada has always considered St. Joseph an exemplar of its mission statement of “challenging men to show the same servant leadership to their families that Christ has for His bride, the Church.”

The goal of the fundraiser is to have pianist and vocal coach Carlos Foggin, a 2020 recipient of the Lieutenant Governor of Alberta Emerging Artist Award, to transpose the Litany of St. Joseph prayer into a musical creation. As many seminarians will be gathered as possible to perform the piece alongside the Rocky Mountain Symphony in a recorded video and in a 70-minute concert led by the RMS.

Lynn said that while admiring St. Joseph at all times is worthwhile, we should turn to him now more than ever.

“Our world really needs positive role models. I really believe we can stem the tide of chaos and disorder in society by enabling men to be good fathers and husbands who are reflections of God the Father to their families,” he said.

Nearly $11,000 has been raised thus far. The organization is hoping to secure the remainder of the funding by its 2021 Catholic Men’s Conference in March.

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